A calm of pleasure listens round / And almost whispers winter bye / While fancy dreams of summer sounds / And quiet rapture fills the eye…
– from “The Shepherds Calendar – A Thaw” by John Clare
Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
By Kathryn Harkup
from the publisher: The year 1818 saw the publication of one of the most influential science-fiction stories of all time. Frankenstein: Or, Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley had a huge impact on gothic horror and science fiction genres. Making the Monster explores the science behind Shelley’s book. From tales of reanimated zombie kittens to electrical experiments on human cadavers, Kathryn Harkup examines the science and scientists that influenced Mary Shelley and inspired her most famous creation, Victor Frankenstein. While, thankfully, we are still far from being able to recreate Victor’s “creature,” scientists have tried to create the building blocks of life, and the dream of creating life-forms from scratch is now tantalizingly close.
I’ve only just started this one by Harkup’s enthusiasm for the topic is clear. It’s great fun, as was her earlier book, A is for Arsenic. I’m also quite excited for a year of Frankenstein anniversary-related thoughts and writings. If you haven’t read the original, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s nothing like the pop culture monster you’ve been fed for years.
By Kathryn Harkup
The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Sigma (February 6, 2018)
The Ghost Notebooks
By Ben Dolnick
from the publisher: A supernatural story of love, ghosts, and madness as a young couple, newly engaged, become caretakers of a historic museum. When Nick Beron and Hannah Rampe decide to move from New York City to the tiny upstate town of Hibernia, they aren’t exactly running away, but they need a change. Hannah takes a job as live-in director of the Wright Historic House, a museum dedicated to an obscure nineteenth-century philosopher, and she and Nick swiftly move into their new home. At first, life in this old, creaky house feels cozy—they speak in Masterpiece Theater accents and take bottles of wine to the swimming hole. But as summer turns to fall, Hannah begins to have trouble sleeping and she hears whispers in the night.
I haven’t started this one yet, but it sounds like exactly my kind of Valentine’s Day read.
By Ben Dolnick
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Pantheon (February 13, 2018)
By Karen Brown
from the publisher: On the family homestead by the sea where she grew up, Martha Mary saw ghosts. As a young woman, she hopes to distance herself from those spirits by escaping to an inland college town. There, she is absorbed by a budding romance, relieved by separation from an unstable sister, and disinterested in the flyers seeking information about a young woman who’s disappeared—until one Indian summer afternoon when the missing woman appears beneath Martha’s apartment window, wearing a down coat, her hair coated with ice.
I’m eagerly awaiting my review copy so I can dig into this ghost story. (Noticing a theme in my February reads?) Also crossing my fingers there is not too much romance. Not really my thing.
By Karen Brown
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (February 20, 2018)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
By Michelle McNamara
from the publisher: For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area. Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague.
There are many reasons to be excited about this book. The rise of citizen investigation and journalism, the popularity of true crime and cold cases, and the sudden death of the author all seem to be convergin here. I know this is a book I will have to buckle up for.
by Michelle McNamara
Print Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper (February 27, 2018)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
What are your reads for February?